Friday, October 28, 2011

Maximizing Your Clothing Budget

I like wearing nice clothes.  The problem with nice clothes is that they are expensive, even when on sale.  To keep my wardrobe budget at a minimum I maximize my wardrobe by buying as much as I can on clearance and wearing most of the pieces all year long.  Since I live in the Midwest with climate extremes it isn't as easy as living in a more temperate climate but it is still doable.

Here are some tips for maximizing your wardrobe budget
  • Find a store that carries clothes that fit you all the time - this is important if you are difficult to fit, if clothes always fit and looks great on you then this isn't a big deal.
  • Sign up for mailing lists to your favorite stores - you will get calls and/or e-mails about fantastic sales before the event in addition to coupons.
  • Stop in or shop online as frequently as you can - unless you don't have willpower and will spend unnecessarily this is a terrific way to find great deals.  When we had a Liz Claiborne outlet in town I would stop at least once a week to check out there clearance racks.  It was rare for me to pay more than $10 for an article of clothing.  I'm very sad that they are no longer here.
  • Buy quality pieces that last.  You can buy three cheap shirts for $10 a piece that don't fit great and won't make it past one season or you can buy 1 shirt for $30 that looks fantastic and lasts for several years.
  • Mix and match your clothes, this really does work.  My trick is to buy some really different shells to wear underneath jackets.  A black jacket paired with a red shell and black pants looks very different than that same jacket with a black shell and grey pants.
  • Splurge on one or two pieces of really cool jewelry.  A standout necklace will help make a blah outfit shine.
  • Wear as many pieces all year long.  I have a few seasonal pieces (like the crocheted sweater for summer or the poncho for winter) but otherwise I try to buy pieces that I can wear all year long with some minor modifications.
Here is an example of maximizing your wardrobe.  I received an e-mail from one of my favorite stores (Chico's) that I could take 40% off clearance items from their website.  Chico's clothing fits me pretty true to size so I feel confident buying tops from them (I never order pants online).  I spent $100 for all three pieces, including shipping and tax.  That may still seem like a lot of money but these three pieces will last me quite a number of years and will be worn all year long.  Here's what I bought

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This is a very lightweight jacket and is actually see-through.  During the winter months I'll be wearing a fitted, long-sleeved black t-shirt underneath to keep me warm and to keep skin from showing.  When the weather warms up I'll wear either a black or white tank underneath to keep from getting overheated.  I plan on wearing this around the house or to work on casual Fridays with a pair of casual black pants

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During the winter months I'll be wearing this sweater with a brown turtleneck or the same black t-shirt from above and either brown or black pants.  Once the weather warms up the combinations are almost endless.  The neutrality of this piece will allow me to pair it with almost any color pants or shell.

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This was a little bit of a splurge because it's not quite so neutral and doesn't have as many options but I like having a couple of stand out pieces in my wardrobe.  This is a lightweight trench coats that during the winter months I'll be wearing to work with black pants (or jeans on the weekend) and a black shirt.  Once the weather warms up I can wear this as a lightweight jacket outside.

For full disclosure, unless I've gone a year or two without buying much I rarely spend more than $300 a year on my wardrobe.  Most of the time I'm buying pieces to freshen up and replace worn pieces, I'm not replacing my entire wardrobe.  However, there are years when I may spend more if I need to replace some of my suits.

How do you maximize your wardrobe?

I'll be linking this up over at Life as Mom


  1. Great tips! I cut down on costs by shopping clearance racks...I don't mind clothes that are a half season out of style. Kohl's is the best. They mark up their clothes way high so they can sell them at a "discount," but their clearance racks are unbeatable.

  2. I LOVE Kohl's, the problem is their clothes don't seem to fit me that great so I don't typically buy my clothes there. For my kids or shoes they are awesome. I just picked up a pair of Sketchers that I've been wanting for $30 using some Kohl's cash, a sale and my coupon.

  3. If you have the time thrift stores are fantastic! I have found great classic outfits for cheap that last forever. I even guest posted for The Scrappy Housewife with a few thrifting tips if you are interested.

  4. I would agree that you can find some great classic outfits at a thrift store. Finding clothes that fit great can be a problem for me so I don't go that route very often. I've found that I get waaaay less frustrated with shopping by finding a store where the clothes tend to fit. I'll be checking out your guest post.